After 2 months of review, analysis and debate, the Trustees unanimously approved 2 new zoning laws on July 21st. The first reduced the height of houses to no more than 30 feet on lots of less than 1/2 acre, and no more than 33 feet on lots from ½ to less than 1 acre in size. The second new zoning law clarified the definition of a parking space and adopted the Suffolk County definition of a bedroom. This will ensure that residential parking will not be forced onto the streets, which in many neighborhoods, were not designed for on street parking. The impact of these new laws was immediate – and several applications had to be revised, with lower overall heights and enhanced parking (as the original code intended). This is a major win for our Village!
The Village Trustees also instructed the Planning Commission to conduct a review of the existing pyramid law and gross floor area (GFA) and Lot coverage maximums to help reduce the impact of residential redevelopment in our community. It is hoped the review process and additional legislation can be completed and approved by the end of the year.
At the August 13th Trustees meeting, the Southampton Association submitted an opinion from the Garden City law firm of Meyer, Suozzi, English and Klein clarifying the powers of the Village’s Architectural Review Board (ARB). In many recent decisions, the ARB has indicated it lacked the authority to reject designs or require changes even when the design and scale are out of character/harmony with the existing neighborhood. The Meyer, Suozzi opinion states “The clear intent of the statue and the AB’s mandate is that applications for development which create an imbalance or are out of context wit the neighborhood should be rejected.” We are hopeful that the intent of our code will prevail.
At this meeting, the Trustees also adopted a local law for the Height of Elevated Buildings in the FEMA flood zones. This law essentially allowed the full FEMA flood elevation to be added to the height of proposed houses, with no maximum cap (as most other East End communities have). The law does include a pyramid calculation which should force residences to the center of the lot and limit their height on small parcels. For example, the height of the 40 Meadow Lane property would have been reduced by approximately 10 feet had this law been in place last year.
A final issue which was discussed at the Trustees meeting was the proliferation of short term rental activity in the village, made possible by various internet websites. The Trustees are studying this issue and we are looking at various options, including establishing a rental permit process.
October 6, 2015